Blogs from Tokushima , Tokushima, Japan, Asia


Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima April 17th 2017

Japan Day 5. Tokushima to Hiwasa. 70km. Three cheers for Carradice capes. The heavens opened for business at 11 o'clock in Japanese fashion and got worse and worse as the day progressed. Not that we regret this trip to Japan as we still love it, despite the vagaries of the weather. Two years ago. Christine made the phrase, "I love Japan, I'll be back" and here she is with 15 others who have either been before, or will certainly return. Early on as we left Tokushima the day was cloudy but warm and dry. We rode through several pedestrian streets with no one around and no shops open, and later sawmills not working - is it a holiday? Easter Monday at home but not in a Buddhist country. We followed rivers for most of the day, ... read more
Pilgrim chanting
Power Station

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima July 20th 2011

Here I am in the teachers' room at my commercial high school with a beautiful bouquet of pink lilies propped up on my desk. School's officially out for summer, but the copier is still humming and people are shuffling around busy with I'm not sure what, tying up loose ends I suppose. In exactly one week, someone else will be sitting at this desk, living in my apartment and introducing herself to my coworkers, many of whom I can now call friends. Life is a constant series of goodbyes (although I'm not very good at them), but goodbye feels especially unsettling without at least the possibility of running into people at the grocery store. This is goodbye to not only the school and the town, but the country, the continent and the hemisphere. Forever. Surprisingly, I ... read more
Goodbye Friends
Goodbye Students

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima July 8th 2011

I wrote this article for Awa Life, the newsletter for JETs in Tokushima Prefecture, which came out today: Six Japanese men in cowboy hats, vests and plaid flannel shirts, a group by the name of Cabin Home, fiddled, strummed and jammed away Typhoon Songda’s howling winds as they took the stage on Sunday, May 29th. I was an attendee of the fifth semi-annual Tokushima Bluegrass Festival, supporting Fumio Fukui-sensei, the machinery and electromechanical systems teacher at my technical high school. After eight months of working together, he had finally shared his secret with me: not only is he fluent in English, but he also plays and sings country, bluegrass and folk music. “ is very simple and easy,” Fukui-sensei told me. “Everyone can play and sing, but it is very deep. Bluegrass and country music has ... read more
Cabin Home, the first performers of the day
Fumio Fukui, a.k.a. Dr. F

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima June 9th 2011

My latest pursuits are in the physical realm, and have transformed my uggh-the-week-is-only-half-over Wednesdays into super-awesome-four-hour-work-out Wednesdays. Yes, four hours of working out in one day, starting at 5:30 am. I don't recognize myself, either. It all starts with a 45 minute bike ride to the farther of my two schools. Happily, this is just the right time for me to plow through morning excercises in the park (as an observer, not a participant). Many Japanese people, especially elderly Japanese people, enjoy waking up at dawn everyday to do taiso, an excercise involving matching track suits and piano music. I'm not trying to poke fun at the Japanese exercise regiment, but it does brighten my day to see everyone lined up in the park taiso-ing at six in the morning. At seven, I'm in my high ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima May 20th 2011

At my latest work party, my high school's kendo (sword fighting) coach invited me to meditate with the team at a local temple. Twice a month, as part of their training, they practice Zazen medition, which comes from Chinese Zen Buddhism. At first I was just excited to have such a unique experience, and didn't think about how difficult it might be to sit motionless for half an hour. But when the moment arrived on Thursday night, with incense burning and monks ringing bells, I started to get a little nervous. We had already been sitting cross legged on the floor for about 15 minutes, which is a long time for someone with poor circulation who's used to sitting on furniture. We (and by we I mean everyone else in the room except for me) were ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima April 12th 2011

Celebrating hanami seems disrespectful with so many people suffering in the north, and Japanese people are cancelling vacations and parties to show solidarity with the victims. But cherry blossoms, or sakura, have been blooming all over Japan and as the weather slowly infects me with spring fever, it's also hard not to enjoy the season. I experienced big league hanami in Kyoto two weeks ago, and the picturesque views in traditional gardens and temples left me with no doubt why Kyoto is the famous place to see cherry blossoms. Even just strolling down the street in Gion, the Geisha/Maiko district, is scenic and just pleasant in general. Bridges and canals run alongside sakura-lined streets with little Edo period (16-1800s) buildings that could have walked off the set of Memoirs of a Geisha. We wandered through this ... read more
Spotted: Almost Maiko

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima March 29th 2011

What with the recent disaster and my parents coming to visit, I didn't have a chance to write about the culmination of the past three months of my life. I'm talking about the JET Musical, an adventure that has kept me from sleeping in since January. In a good way, of course. The musical, a long-standing tradition in Tokushima, is a way for us to contribute to the community. There are some fans who have been coming to see it for years. Check out the awesome musical promo video for this year's show, by John M. My role in our wacky rendition of Treasure Island was Penelope: the captain's long lost sister, marooned on an island with a contingent of ninjas who carried me onstage in my spotlight moment. It's always been a suppressed dream of ... read more
Spotlight Moment
Zombie Dance
With the Parents

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima March 25th 2011

There's been a lot of Japanese government-bashing lately because of their response to the nuclear crisis, but something I read today on Mother Jones really hit me: "A natural disaster, accident, or terrorist attack that might be statistically unlikely in any year or decade becomes ever more likely at the half-century, century, or half-millennium mark. Given enough time, in fact, the unlikely becomes almost inevitable. Even if you and I are not the victims of some future apocalyptic disturbance of that lethal residue, to consign our children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to such peril is plainly and profoundly immoral." full article Because of how much time it takes for radioactive material to break down, there really isn't anywhere in the world that's safe for a nuclear power... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima March 22nd 2011

The disaster in northeast Japan isn't news to anyone, and friends and family witnessing the disaster through the media have been filling my inbox with messages of concern and support. Thank you, I have never felt more loved. It is surreal for me to be living in Japan at a time like this. On the one hand, I'm extremely close to the disaster zone, closer than I've been to any headline news catastrophe apart from 9/11. But on the other hand, I'm experiencing this almost entirely through the news, just like everyone in the states. My home on Shikoku island, about 415 miles from Fukushima prefecture, is virtually unaffected by the quake, tsunami and radiation threat - though I do understand that this could change. The mood at my workplace has saddened, and of course people ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima February 18th 2011

Alas, graduation for both of my schools is on March 3, and I will have to say goodbye to my current students and break in a new batch. Knowing I only have a few more classes with each group has gotten me reminiscing about my teaching experiences thus far. I've really gotten attached to my students, especially the ones who make me laugh. Who knows if they'll remember me fondly, or at all, but they will always have a special place in my heart as my first students. With no training whatsoever, I entered their classrooms and tried my best - making a fool of myself by gesturing wildly, dancing, tripping over myself and even singing the Beatles a capella. Through them I learned how to deal with silent, "invisible wall" classes (awkwardly, frustrated-ly doing the ... read more

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